How To: Pack Toiletries

Happy Labor Day! I love a good long weekend, don't you? I spent the past couple of days up in CT visiting with my friend H. We went to wineries and ate really good food and had fun and I'll be sharing some snaps soon. In the meantime, I wanted to share my toiletry bag.

In the way that FBI agents have 'go bags' ready at all times, I have my toiletry bag ready at all times. It sits on a shelf in my room, ready for me to grab and go, which makes things really easy when I'm packing for holidays and work trips and even quick weekend trips like the one I just returned from.

And along with my usual weeklong holidays (France, Turks & Caicos, Italy) and work trips (North Dakota) this past year and a half has been full of short weekend jaunts and local trips (hello, Miami, Toronto, Philadelphia, DC, Boston, Provincetown, and Philly again) which has made my little ready-to-go toiletry bag all the more convenient. And, I have some plans to do a few more weekend trips soon (including a long weekend in New Orleans) and a longer trip to a tropical island so having this guy waiting on standby all the time is so practical and super convenient.
Since my toiletry bag gets so much use, I thought I'd share a couple of my favorite products and a few tips and tricks for packing them.

I have several products that I use every single day and I like to collect sample size versions for travel. Purity face wash (by Philosophy) is my favorite morning cleanser because it's super gentle. Luckily, the bottle I have is refillable. Advanced Night Repair (by Estee Lauder) is my favorite serum and I got the little baby size free in a gift bag and again, this one is refillable, which I love. St. Ives exfoliating wash is my other staple and little travel size versions are readily available at Target and Harmon so I never stress out about that particular product.

Beyond those three favorites, I also like to pack an oil cleanser, an eye cream, moisturizer, spot treatment, face mask, all purpose oil moisturizer, and of course, a toothbrush and toothpaste.

Because I only wash my hair twice a week, if I'm going on a weeklong holiday, I have zero incentive to bring a bottle of shampoo or conditioner. Instead, I like to bring little sample packets of shampoo and conditioner. The samples are usually generously sized and will allow for at least two washes, which is perfect. Similarly, instead of bringing a little tube of sunscreen, moisturizer, or eye cream, I like to bring sample packets. My skin isn't particularly sensitive so experimenting a little with products doesn't affect me adversely. Plus, these trips give me the opportunity to try out a new product and maybe discover a new favorite.
If I decide I need more than just a ketchup packet's worth of shampoo (perhaps if I'm headed on a beachy getaway where I'll be washing my hair more often than usual), I usually grab the full sized bottle out of my shower and fill up a reusable container. There are dozens of 3 oz. (100 ml) bottles in different shapes available in the beauty supply section and I love them because you can maximize the amount you're bringing. Travel-sized shampoos tend to only be 2 oz. and/or come in awkward shaped containers, which make them inconvenient.
For the bag holding all of my toiletries, I like to use a vinyl zippered bag instead of a flimsy plastic ziptop sandwich bag. I prefer the sturdiness and the reliability. I bought this particular one from Forever 21 (which is sold out so I can't link it but you can find similar ones at F21, H&M, Target; basically you can find sturdy bags almost anywhere). It's not technically a TSA approved toiletries bag but it has the right dimensions and it's see-through so I've been using it and so far, no one's said boo.
Everything tucks right into the bag perfectly and if anything decides that it wants to explode, it is contained inside of the bag with no chance of leakage. And, because it's such sturdy vinyl, even the sharpest lotion bottle corners won't tear through it.

I should also mention that I have a travel toothbrush. There's nothing special about it; it's just permanently my travel toothbrush. I have a little cover for it - to keep germs off of it and keep the germs on the toothbrush off of my other stuff - and even though it's not a liquid, I keep it with my toiletries out of convenience and so that while I'm on the airplane or even the train, I can freshen up.
I use contact lenses so I need to bring solution with me when I travel. However, even though it's a liquid I don't keep it in my toiletries bag. Contact solution is considered a medical necessity so it doesn't have to go in the liquids bag and it can be larger than 3 oz. Technically, you have to declare it but I've never been hassled about it so I never bother.

And I love my little case, even though it's looking a little worse for the wear, because it's unique. If you've ever traveled with fellow contact lens wearers, then you know that 99% of the time, there is a lens wearer with the same exact case that you have and you have to store them on opposite sides of the room to prevent accidental lens swapping. So far, no one else I've traveled with has this particular case and I love that because I never confuse my contacts with anyone else's.
Because traveling tends to mess with my skin, I like to also tote along a mask or two. I really need to make special mention of this Korres face mask. There are a few different ones - a cranberry lifting mask, a watermelon cooling mask, and a grapefruit brightening mask - but this nectarine moisturizing mask is my favorite for traveling because dehydrated skin is my biggest concern when I'm on the road. The best part about these masks is that they go on a little creamy but they start to soak in and turn completely clear so they're great for using in transit without people giving you funny looks. Plus, they really work and do what they say they'll do.
So that's it. Those are my tips for toiletry packing and a few of the products I particularly love.
Happy traveling!